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accommodate

One meaning of accommodate is to house.

For example, imagine that a new house is being built in your neighborhood and you ask the builder about the family who will be moving in. If the builder likes to use hoity-toity language she might respond, “This house will accommodate the Belchers. The Belchers are a family of five who burp incessantly and who, for no apparent reason, like to capitalize particular nouns, such as belcher. Their family name is Smythe.”

Another meaning of accommodate is to fulfill particular needs or desires.

For instance, you might walk up to the front desk of a hotel where you don’t have a reservation and say, “I need a room for three nights. I’ll need to keep my pet crocodile with me in the room. The room must have a pool about three times the size of a bathtub so my crocodile can wade in and out. My croc’s favorite food is human babies, so I’ll need room service to stock some.

“For me, my religious beliefs require that I eat only foods beginning with the letter k. So I’ll also need room service and your restaurant to stock plenty of kale, kumquats, kiwi, kippers, kelp, Kung Pao Chicken, Kung Pao Beef, Kung Pau Pork and Kung Pao Shrimp.

“My religion also requires that I sleep only on a straw mattress. So I’ll need one of those. Do you have a room for me?”

The hotel clerk might respond, “We can accommodate you.” Unfortunately, that response would be ambiguous because she might be using the housing meaning of accommodate, rather than the fulfilling particular needs and wants definition. That is, she might simply saying the hotel can provide you—and only you—with a room, not that the hotel will agree to your other requests.

Then again, this ambiguity is almost certainly irrelevant because it’s highly unlikely she will say, “We can accommodate you.” The hotel’s policy of respecting customers notwithstanding, what she is much more likely to say is, “You’re a freaking lunatic. Get the hell out of this hotel before I call the damned authorities and have you committed and your crocodile served for dinner.”

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